Since it is Friday when we arrive in Tabriz the city looks rather deserted. The infamous traffic and driving style of the people is not as bad as we heard it would be. The first shower after more than two days in a train is like heaven. As it is the weekend we have some trouble finding a place to change money – in the end we change some on the street to pay for dinner. Eating our first Iranian kebap dinner (many more to come) we feel we are ready to explore the country.
The next morning we visit the famous UNESCO heritage listed basar which is still very much in use and not only a tourist attraction. We loose ourselves in the narrow old streets between stands of spices, jewellery, clothes, carpets… In fact most of the center of this roughly 1.5 million city seems to be lined with shops selling anything from shoes, tiles, car spare parts and so on. Usually the shops are specialized in something and everyone specializing in the same thing is found in the same street. Imagine there are streets with as many shoes as I have never seen in my life (however, the sortiment starts to repeat itself after the third shop latest). One kind of street is missing though – a restaurant street. On our whole trip we never had as much problem finding something (decent) to eat than in Iran.
In the afternoon we visit a small village (Kandovan) nearby that is built into rocks. We stroll through the steep narrow paths (sometimes walking on top of the flat roofs of the house below) and have some tea in a local house together with our Polish friends we have just made.
A lot of local people greet us wherever we go – in the city and the countryside. They ask us where we are from and what we think of Iran. We meet some interesting people but especially at the beginnig of our stay we also meet some strange people. Either they want to sell us something or they seem to be bored sitting in the park/square all day and need some distraction (and we have just wanted to read a bit in that nice park…). These are our first impressions from the west of Iran but I am feeling that I need to peel more layers to have a better feeling and understanding of the country.